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Announcing WattJournals: The first customised version of JournalTOCs for Academic Libraries

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A new, low-cost effective search tool for Heriot-Watt University, WattJournals, was pre-launched today to help their students and researchers keep up to date.

spineless? - the official blog of Heriot-Watt University Library – announced the pre-launch of its new WattJournals search tool. The announcement explains that WattJournals is a new service developed by the University Library and ICBL which gives fast and easy access to the full-text of over 4,000 electronic journals to which the Library subscribes. WattJournals is planned to be launched and linked from the Library website early in July 2010 after completing its final testing stage with students and academic staff.

WattJournals is an innovative and economic alternative to large and sometimes complex e-journal systems.  It helps students and researchers find papers as soon as they have been published, access the full-text of all papers being searched, save searches for later use, and export citations to EndNote.

Gill McDonald, Acting Librarian for Heriot-Watt University unveiled WattJournals saying that “This new service will be particularly useful to students and researchers who want to get some up-to-date articles and research papers quickly and easily. We know that some students find the whole process of navigating several databases and e-journal sites quite confusing at first, and to do a search and then find that the Library doesn’t have a subscription to the journal you’ve found is really frustrating.”

This statement may sound familiar to many university library users as it is well known that complex web interfaces and library database systems can sometimes actually discourage students from using library e-journal sites and they often use Google instead.

McDonald added, “WattJournals can be a gentle introduction to searching, with the added benefit that all the articles found will be available – no more dead ends! I’m delighted that the Library and ICBL have been able to work together to develop WattJournals for the benefit of all Heriot-Watt staff and students.”

Although WattJournals is specially designed for Heriot-Watt University, it is powered by a software toolkit provide through JournalTOCs that can be installed and configured by any academic library wanting to provide their users with a webpage that searches only journals to which that library subscribes. This has been done by integrating the functionality of three different web applications through an agile development and lightweight technique known as mashup, which makes extremely easy the wiring of the Library Subscription Management System (Subscriptions Filter), the Institutional OpenURL Link resolver and the RSS feeds exposed by the JournalTOCs API.  The implementation of WattJournals is illustrated in the following picture.

WattJournals

The JournalTOCs Toolkit is at the core of this mashup. The software toolkit, developed by the JournalTOCs Project, is to be installed on web servers of institutions wanting to create localised customised instances of JournalTOCs, under a “licence-to-use” access model. WattJournals is a typical example of using this economic and easy-to-use model. The University library administrator only needed to download and install the toolkit on the library web server and register the new installation with the central JournalTOCs web site.

JournalTOCs is a free service, covering almost all the journals currently producing RSS feeds (over 14,000 journals). The JournalTOCs API output is just a simple and easy-to-use RSS feed. Papers searched by the API come directly from the publisher as soon as they have been published online. For more information about the JournalTOCs API and the JournalTOCs toolkit for Academic Libraries, please contact icbl@icbl.hw.ac.uk